who have so cheerfully endured them. The same task would be as cheerfully undertaken again. We have come here by forced marches, living upon the country as we came. Our men are, many of them, without shoes, blankets, shirts, or overcoats, and entirely destitute of shelter. Nay, even their ordinary clothing is the light blouses and pants of summer wear. Our animals having been starved to almost the last extremity in Chattanooga, are scarcely able to haul empty wagons. We have fortunately been favored with fine weather during our march. Had it been otherwise we could scarcely have reached here at all. The season is at hand when the heavy rains of winter may be hourly looked for, when the roads will be rendered impassable. When this happens all our transportation and artillery must not only be abandoned, but frightful suffering must ensue among the men, who are even now at midday shivering over their camp-fires. At Chattanooga we have some few supplies. We have the huts, which at great pains the men have constructed and which we left, and we have means of communication which in time may partially supply us for the winter, and, in view of these facts, general, I most respectfully, but most persistently and urgently, ask leave to withdraw my troops to Chattanooga while there is a chance that I can.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS,
Knoxville, December 12, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Army of the Ohio:
GENERAL: I beg most respectfully but most earnestly to call your immediate attention to the following considerations:
As is well known by you, the troops under my command marched immediately after a hard battle of three days' duration, from Chattanooga to Knoxville, to relieve their suffering and besieged brethren. They came hurriedly, with scarcely any transportation, no shelter, and many of them destitute of shoes, overcoats, or even shirts, for the exigency was urgent, and we expected to be detained upon this service but a few days. Not one of my officers has a change of clothing.
For more than three months these men have been living upon less than half rations. In their hurried and forced march hither they have subsisted upon the country through which they passed, and now they have but limited quantities of bread and meat. They are weak and growing feeble in consequence of all this.
Never have troops more cheerfully borne privations, but it is certain, unless they can speedily have some means of shelter, more than one-half of them must fill the hospitals, from thence only to be discharged by death.
In addition to all the deficiencies of food and clothing, the storms of winter, so long delayed, have at last evidently set in, and the prospect for men who, with all the advantages of fine weather and good fires, have not been able to keep from shivering is sufficiently deplorable. The climate, in its extreme variableness, is extremely trying to northern constitutions.